Kind of lost amid all the heavy mashing being exhibited by the Toronto Blue Jays in recent outings has been the running of Jose Reyes, the shortstop whose early season hamstring injury curtailed one of the most important aspects of his game.
While the Blue Jays went about hammering a season-high five home runs off Philadelphia pitching during a 12-6 drubbing of the Phillies at the Rogers Centre bandbox Thursday night, Reyes quietly stole two bases, his third in two games.
Reyes also alertly scampered to third base on a passed ball that didn’t drift very far from the batter’s box in the fifth inning, and wound up scoring three of the Toronto runs during the uprising.
Now if the Toronto leadoff hitter could only do something about that .179 batting average and the Blue Jays, who are in the midst of a season-high five game winning streak, would be in fine shape indeed.
“I’m very happy with the way my leg feels right now,” Reyes said. “I’ve got to get on top of my swing, get on base more and I’m going to be running a lot.”
The season did not get off to a great start for Reyes, who pulled up trying to leg out a grounder in his first at-bat in the first game of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Reyes had aggravated his left hamstring, an old nemesis.
It landed Reyes on the disabled list from which he did not return until Toronto’s 16th game, April 19th, against the Cleveland Indians.
Since then, on those infrequent occasions when he did manage to get on base, it was like Reyes was taking baby steps on the base paths, nervous about the prospect of possibly reinjuring himself.
Only in the last week or so has Reyes felt comfortable on base and is emerging as the nuisance he can be when it comes to swiping bases.
“My confidence wasn’t there,” Reyes said. “You have to take a little time every day, just to feel a little better, a little better. If you come right back and try to push it right away you can blow out your hammy [hamstring] right away.”
Getting Reyes back up to full speed is about the one ingredient missing from the otherwise impressive offensive showing of late by the Blue Jays, who are averaging seven runs per game in the eight contests they’ve played so far in May.
“Yeah, we’re some kind of hot right now,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons of the hottest team in the American League. “Realistically, if you look at the way the lineup is right now, there’s pretty good hitters in there and they’re all swinging it and it’s dangerous.
“And of course you put us in this ballpark, it’s a home run heaven here. It’s tough to pitch to. And everybody’s feeding off each other. I would say right now it’s a good club to pitch for.”
R.A. Dickey, the Toronto starter who was the prime beneficiary of all that offensive largesse Thursday night, would attest to that.
Dickey’s knuckleball was just screwy enough to handcuff the Phillies, striking out a season high eight batters to record his fourth straight quality outing en route to leveling his record on the year to 3-3.
Although he walked three batters during the fourth and fifth innings that led to some peril, Dickey was generally in control during his 6.1-innings of work.
“I’m making strides,” said Dickey, whose 25 walks on the year ties him with Boston’s Jake Peavy for the most in Major League Baseball.
“I had a good one,” Dickey continued, referring to his knuckleball. “I had one that was a swing and miss one tonight and it was comfortable out of my hand all night long. I did have an 0-2 walk and a four-pitch walk.
“If I can eliminate that I could have some fun this year.”